Having A Lousy Date? There's A New App For That

Image representing iPhone 3G as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Here’s a useful app — that turns your Itouch or Iphone into a rape whistle. From the Toronto Star:

On Friday, YWCA Canada announced its YWCA Safety Siren app, available free for download at the iTunes store.

The alarm — with a choice of three ear-splitting wails — goes off with either a press of the pink button or a shake, converting an iPhone or iPod Touch into a 21st-century version of the rape whistle.

Not only does the siren sound, but an email is automatically generated while a phone call gets made (if you have an iPhone) to preset emergency contacts. Both can attach a Google map pinpointing your location…

There are other safety apps already available, including an “I’m being assaulted’’ app that sends emails. There’s also an “Am I safe?’’ app that rates locations as go or no-go zones.

But neither combines all the features of the YWCA app, which is more than a siren. Hit the “Safe Date’’ button and there’s info on how to avoid trouble before you step out. The Health icon describes healthy ways to hook up. Dating 101 is a guide to guys, good and bad. Finally, the Geolocations tab will pop up a map showing the nearest health and rape crisis centres.

Even the most charming — often the most charming — of men can turn predatory. I doubt (m)any women are carrying rape whistles or Mace these days.

The wisest move, as every smart woman knows, is to let a friend know where you’re heading before going on a first date and/or avoiding a stranger’s car or apartment until you have some idea who he is. Having ended up in the clutches of a former felon, a man as handsome, well-dressed and chatty as they come, I know well that appearances mean little.

I think this is a smart idea.

The interesting question is what happens after that blast of noise — will anyone come to your aid? Or is it most useful as a distracting device, a chance to give you a few moments of surprise to flee?

Related articles by Zemanta

He's Five Feet Away — And Hot! Grindr Finds Sex Fast, But Only For Gay Men. Where's BoyBasket?

The default Home screen of the iPhone shows mo...
Image via Wikipedia

Here’s another way to find sex fast — Grindr — a new iPhone app that shows gay men who’s nearby and eager to hook up. Writes Clark Harding in The Daily Beast:

My iPhone was snatched from my hands and the Grindr app downloaded by committee. I stumbled home that night, my pants already buzzing with new messages. In just those few minutes I was swept up in the undertow of what Grindr founder and CEO Joel Simkhai calls online’s “third wave.”

“The Grindr iPhone application,” Joel explained to me, “is all about location. It uses GPS technology to determine your exact coordinates and instantly shows you photos of the guys around you.” Or as I first saw it, Grindr tells me which guys in my immediate vicinity might be looking to hook up. I look at my iPhone, and sure enough, Joel is 1.2 miles away. He is a slight, Israeli with a warm smile. We’ve never met in person, though—I found him on Grindr, which is where I decided to conduct our interview.

“It’s great when you know what a person looks like or whatever, but that information is not valuable unless you factor in proximity,” he said. “Now can we talk in person cuz I hate typing on my phone.”

Grindr is a remarkably simple experience. You have a screen name, one picture, and a few personal statistics to accompany it, followed by the obligatory short blurb about what it is you’re looking for (all of which you can choose to not publish if you’re uncomfortable.) The rest happens through texting. You can choose to put up your face picture, which most men do. Or, like me, you can publish your headless torso so your exes or, say, men who live across the street can’t tell you’re cruising the airwaves for something other than them. “It’s all about how you present yourself,” says Joel, “That is what dictates the experience.”

So, when’s the female-focused version of Grindr going to show up? Would it work?

Think of all the time and hassle it could save women — no more sitting around in bars looking alluring, slowly sipping that $12 merlot, no more speed-dating or flirting in the produce section. Guys, all around you, ready to go, literally at your fingertips for the choosing.

I like the efficiency of it, even though I’m not in the market. Having survived the tedious slog of on-line dating (liars, liars, more liars), anything that shortens the time between interest and contact argues in its favor. And women like to choose, not wait to be chosen. What’s our version — GuyShopper? BoyBasket?

But…Do women want or need something more than a body part on a screen to make a split-second decision? Are we less sexually voracious? Or just less comfortable showing it?

The Ghost In The Machine…Is Us

Two women with a spirit
Image by National Media Museum via Flickr

I remember the day I first owned a piece of technology so advanced we couldn’t quite believe its possibilities — the SONY Walkman. It was about the size and weight of a small paperback book, played cassettes and allowed us, for the first time, to listen to music anytime anywhere. Magic! It was introduced to the world on June 22, 1979 and I bought mine in the summer of 1982. I sat at the corner of Madison Avenue and 49th. in the bright sunshine, instantly sequestered inside my own head in the midst of one of the city’s busiest corners in one of the world’s most frenzied metropolises.

Equally revolutionary, this new machine allowed us to shut people out. I’m now beginning to wonder if this is really such a great idea.

Last week, we attended a fantastic concert by Joan Osborne, her ecstatic fans shrieking out requests. The guy behind me kept hollering out the title of one of my favorite songs and, finally, she played it. I turned around to this stranger, exultant, both spontaneously combusting with joy. That, to me, is the point of a concert, shared pleasure.

Yet dozens of others sat there, the whole time, staring into their Blackberries or Iphones, their faces lit up with that selfish, annoyingly bright glow, oblivious to the fact there was a real human being performing on the stage in the same room and hundreds of us had paid to witness it, not to have other people’s  little private mechanical lights glaring into our faces.

What is going on here?

I attended another concert last night in Manhattan by the Del Sol Quartet, from San Francisco, who played some difficult music written by Polish, Mexican and Cuban composers. Some people left early, unamused or bored. Others closed their eyes, the better to focus on the sound. At a restaurant afterward, three people sat alone at three tables near us, each of them intently focused on their Iphones, one of them a woman who’d sat right beside us at the concert. Forgive my naive fantasy, but imagine if we’d actually — conversed. I would have loved to hear her thoughts on the music we had just heard, but how do you “interrupt” someone so intently focused on their small piece of machinery in a relationship that now seems so intimate?

Yet it’s still normal in many countries outside of North America to share tables, and much less physical public space, whether or not that’s your preference. It’s one way to remind us we are sharing space and time.

A European project is trying to teach robots emotion by interacting with human beings, which these days seems a little quixotic to me, as we retreat further and further into our portable escape mechanisms. Author Maggie Jackson makes a passionate and persuasive argument in her book “Distracted” that constant attachment to, and participation with, electronic devices impairs our ability to think deeply and to make crucial connections between ideas.

I clearly value technology, since I’m using it to write and send this. I rely on it for my livelihood and appreciate its beauty and utility.

But when 24/7 attachment to it, physically and emotionally, fragments us into smaller and smaller pieces of private, enclosed, hermetically sealed individuality, what’s the point?

Are we all just here to ignore one another?